Finds Day Survey

Traditionally, in Staffordshire and the West Midlands, we have held Finds Days at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum, Stoke-on-Trent. 

Unfortunately due to essential rewiring work that needs to be carried out through 2021 and probably longer (It’s a big building), Birmingham Museum is closed to the public and unavailable. Our secondary choice in Birmingham is Thinktank Science Museum at Millennium Point, about a 10 minute walk from Moor Street Station. However this option may not be prove popular to anyone driving in due to the Clean Air Zone that came into force on 1st June.

So, we would like your views on where you would like us to hold Finds Days in this post pandemic world. We can not guarantee that all venues will be used but it is useful for us to know which venues would be better attended.

We are still hoping to attend Metal Detecting club meetings when they restart but we understand that that may not be any time soon.

So please could you fill out a short survey to let us know your preferred venues, and what day/times would be better for you. The survey will remain active until 1st July 2021 to give you plenty of chance to respond but the results will be monitored as they come in.

Staffordshire Treasure Cases in 2018

During 2018, 432 finds were recorded by the Portable Antiquities Scheme as being found in Staffordshire. Out of these, 24 were classified as Treasure under the requirements of the Treasure Act 1996. 

These 24 cases included 7 finger rings, 4 coin hoards, 2 mounts, a button, a spoon, a brooch, a bell and a strap end. 

Here is a bit more information on 3 of those cases.

An early medieval zoomorphic mount made out of silver
An Early Medieval mount of ninth to tenth centuries dating.

2018T903 LEIC-AB9BA6. An Early Medieval mount of ninth to tenth Centuries dating. This mount was identical to one found in 2016 (2016T913 LEIC-1DCF5E). Sue Brunnings (British Museum Curator) commented that:

The function of this object is uncertain. Several socketed zoomorphic terminals dating to the early medieval period are known, all fairly different in style. Those recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme Database or via the Treasure Act include: West Ilsley, West Berkshire (BERK-07A2A4, 2005 T167); Burton-in-Kendal area (LANCUM-E89D32, 2013 T17); Brant Broughton and Stragglethorpe, Lincolnshire (LIN-F0DD46); Frolesworth, Leicestershire (LEIC-B5B737); Barrowby, Lincolnshire (LIN-DA87D8); Lambeth, London (LON-EFCF31); and Kilham, East Yorkshire (Treasure Annual Report 2003, no. 129, 2003 T273). Some are interpreted as decorative fittings from the tips of drinking-horns although the current piece appears rather too small and narrow to have fulfilled that purpose. Its flat form also likens it to a series of artefacts known as ‘aestels’, which have been widely interpreted as manuscript pointers. A small number are in the form of animal’s heads, but are typically much more elaborate in nature, extensively decorated and made from gold.

“The decorative style of the terminal bears resemblance to the Trewhiddle style, dated to the ninth to early tenth centuries. Zoomorphic terminals on Trewhiddle style strap-ends bear very similar circular ears with containing chevron motifs, and panels of decoration on the brow. This provides a clue for dating.”

Sue Brunning adds that the discovery of a second, virtually identical, piece near the findspot of the original piece may be evidence that the two were a pair. This could hint towards a possible function, for instance as dress accessories perhaps attached to the ends of cords or laces, similar to a strap-end.

This case has been acquired by the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.

A Post medieval gold signet ring, with three candlesticks and two initials on the device.
A Post medieval signet ring, with three candlesticks and two initials on the device.

2018T311 DENO-B87439, A post medieval signet finger of 17th Century dating. The setting is inscribed with the capital letters G and L set in between three candlesticks. The central candlestick is larger than its flanking candlesticks. All the candlesticks are stylistically the same, depicting a flat base, two large collars and five smaller collars and a socket, which holds the candle.

Phil Hughes (Finds Liaison Assistant) stated that: The use of capital letters, and the heavy design of the ring, indicates a dating of roughly 1600-1650. Other gold signet/seal rings of this date are found on the PAS database, for example 2014 T520 (DOR-2334D9), dated around 1600-1700.

The candlestick design on the bezel does not appear to be from a coat of arms, but was presumably a personal device used by the owner. The ring was found approximately 150m from Casterne Hall, and the owner, Mr Charles Hurt, reports ‘In 1670 my direct ancestors Nicholas Hurt and Elizabeth Lowe married, linking the estates of Casterne and Alderwasley in Derbyshire. The Lowes and their ancestors had been given Alderwasley by the King in the 13th Century. So one obvious candidate for the ‘L’ on the ring is Lowe. A son of Thomas Lowe of Alderwasley (d. 1415) was Geoffrey Lowe (d. 1451) but he would have been too early for the ring.’

The Potteries Museum withdrew from this acquisition so it has been returned to the finder.

An Early medieval zoomorphic copper alloy strap end with a silver rivet, and a hook attachment on the reverse.
An Early medieval zoomorphic strap end with a hook attachment on the reverse.

2018T143 WMID-5AC3B1 An Early Medieval strap end with a rear hook attachment. Victoria Allnatt (FLO for West Staffordshire & South West Midlands) commented: This strap-end is one of a small but growing corpus with projections, lugs or hooks on their reverse. These have been collected and categorised by Green (2017). Usually the feature on the reverse was soldered on after the initial object was produced. Only a small number have integral attachments like this one, including PAS database GLO-8C25F2 (with a lug rather than a hook) and two others illustrated in Green (2017, p. 3, fig. 8), one of which has a hook. Green suggests the hook was added to strap-ends to make them more useful instead of being a purely decorative accessory. The hook allowed the straps to be tensioned, linked or held together. Green classifies these objects as strap-end hybrids, Hooked Type 1 with integral projections. Regular strap-ends similar to the present example, with zoomorphic terminal and occasionally with silver inlays, fall under Thomas’ (2003) Class A and have been dated to the ninth to tenth centuries.

The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery acquired this find.

A video summary of other Treasure cases from the West Midlands region is available to watch here

West Midlands Treasure 2018

On Monday 21st March, the 2018 Treasure Annual Report was laid in front of Parliament.

In ‘normal’ years, the British Museum normally hold a press conference to show off some of the nicer finds and important Treasure cases of that year. However due to Covid-19 restrictions, we had to do things slightly differently this year.

As such, I have created a video showing most of the 2018 Treasure cases found in the West Midlands counties (Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Coventry, Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent). In the video, you can see a picture of the Treasure case, what number it was and it’s database record, where it was found and equally what has happened to it in the cases that have been concluded.

I created a second video with some of the more interesting non-Treasure finds that were recorded during 2018 as a reminder that we are not just interested in recording Treasure finds but anything archaeological older than 300 years.

I hope you enjoy them.

Early Medieval strap-end. Record ID WMID-5AC3B1 (Birmingham Museums Trust, License CC-BY).

Guest Post: Abigail Taylor, Potteries Museum

I believe that the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) is a hugely important archaeological resource and this is something that I wanted to demonstrate with my PhD research. I have recently completed my PhD for which my thesis was entitled ‘Unstructured Data and Archaeology: The Use of Large
Datasets in Archaeological Research’. When I started my research, at The University of Birmingham with my supervisor Dr Roger White, I was looking to continue the research I did for my undergraduate dissertation. My dissertation studied the continuation of La Téne art into the Romano British period. I began my postgraduate research by considering a similar study of finds across the Romano British to Anglo-Saxon transition period. However, upon downloading the PAS data, it became apparent that this was a research project within itself. The vast quantities of data and remaining debates about its usefulness made it an important topic of research.

My thesis demonstrates the use of unstructured data more broadly and PAS specifically in archaeological research. The PAS is still occasionally ignored or disparaged by archaeologists and relationships with metal detectorists are not always positive across the board. There are still research projects which omit PAS data or use it in very specific ways. I wanted to test the
effectiveness of research using the PAS database on a broad scale and determine whether it could be used to go further than the studies of land use and settlement patterns often seen.

I approached the research methodology in two parts. First, an entire dataset approach to determine long-term and nationwide trends. This also produced a control dataset to determine which areas and time periods deviated from the broad trends. Whereas broad PAS trends may more accurately reflect modern recovery and reporting, deviation from these is more likely to represent genuine historical data. For example, on the whole the finds in the PAS database are concentrated in lowland areas to the south and east. Statistical analysis, in the form of a Chi-squared test, was carried out on the number of finds in each of these ‘zones’ to determine that the difference was statistically significant.

Map illustrating the distribution of PAS finds
A map of all finds in the PAS database

The second element to the methodology sought to go beyond distribution maps and assess the types of finds in a particular case study period and how they differ or are similar across England and Wales. The Romano British to Anglo-Saxon transition period made an excellent case study period as it was a time of great change in the archaeological record and there is still much debate as to the nature of the transition. I reduced the PAS data to a case study period of 300 – 600 AD. The fact that the PAS database is so vast means that it has greater statistical power. This was used to determine whether there is a statistically significant difference in the makeup of finds assemblages across various zones and periods. The overall pattern of finds suggested that, whereas the Roman finds assemblages differed across the boundary of highland and lowland, the Anglo-Saxon boundary was further east. The east is characterised by decorative items such as brooches and the west by more domestic type finds. Further, there appeared to be some difference in finds between the east and
west of the Roman province of Britannia Prima. One possible outlier identified was Staffordshire, which is located in the western zone but had a high proportion of Anglo-Saxon finds. Finds such as the Staffordshire Hoard possibly suggests that high status Anglo-Saxon metalwork was, in fact, used further west than currently thought.

Fragment of an Early Medieval gold and garnet cross pendant (ID: KENT-9D33EB) and gold bracteate (ID: KENT-0163F3) from Kent demonstrating the new, decorative style of material culture that dominates the assemblage in the east.

Early Medieval PAS finds in Staffordshire

Some examples of Anglo-Saxon finds from Staffordshire: a copper alloy lozenge-shaped strip brooch (ID: WMID-054B67), a fragment of copper-alloy gilded square headed brooch (ID: WMID-922C17). 

The conclusion of my research was that the PAS is clearly an incredibly useful tool in analysis of the archaeology of broad areas and time periods. Other research into the use of the PAS such as that by Katherine Robbins and Tom Brindle has focussed on the PAS being more useful for small-scale
research. For example, Katherine Robbins discusses the use of techniques such as analysis of field rewalking and specific land use. I wanted to focus on the use of the PAS on a broad, nationwide scale as the sheer volume of finds in the database appeared to lend itself uniquely to being able to assess
nationwide trends with statistical analysis. 

For the case study period, the data could go some way towards answering specific cultural questions. For example, it identified several zones of material culture assemblages based on artefact type and tests of statistical significance. The data mainly provided a coarse grained overview of
regionality during the Roman to Anglo-Saxon transition. Several limitations on using the data at this scale were identified. The lack of secure dating, artefact type identification and association with other archaeological material affected the ability to conduct a more detailed analysis using the data. The more the PAS data was reduced, the greater the effect of these limitations. In effect, the greatest strengths of the PAS database appeared to be those of all large datasets. That is, its variety, velocity (the rate of new finds being added) and veracity (large datasets average out errors more). In
order to produce a more fine-grained analysis of the case study period, it was deemed that further, more structured, data would be required. One of the areas I identified for further study was the possibility of constructing a brand new methodology for using the PAS in conjunction with excavated

Admiral George Anson – A Staffordshire Pirate

By Attributed to Thomas Hudson – Royal Museums Greenwich (dead link), Public Domain,

George Anson, son of William Anson and Isabella Carrier was born at Shugborough Manor, Staffordshire in 1697. Aged 15, he entered the Royal Navy during the War of the Spanish Succession.
At the age of 19 in 1716, he was promoted to Lieutenant, serving aboard the HMS Hampshire. During the rest of his naval career, he served on several other ships before being promoted to Commodore in 1737

This was when he was first ordered to attack Spanish possessions in South America. Spain controlled most of South America, the Caribbean and the Pacific and was becoming very rich from the proceeds. Naturally, as Britain was at war with Spain, the government wanted to get some of the action (and money).

George Anson took control of a squadron of eight ships, with the mission to attack Spanish ships and plunder them for their riches. In 1743, he struck gold. He captured the Nuestra Senora de Covadonga, off Cape Espiritu Santo. He secured 1,313, 843 pieces of eight (spanish dollars). This treasure was taken back to England, handed over in 1744. This victory not only set him up for life, but also gained him serious political standing. He became a MP for Hedon, Yorkshire and was also promoted eventually to Admiral.

The captured silver was passed over to the Royal Mint, using it to issue new coins in 1746. Crowns, Half Crowns, Shillings and sixpences struck that year, include ‘LIMA’ in the obverse legend. This was in tribute to Admiral George Anson’s success.

Three of these coins have been recorded on the PAS database.

YORYM-6188D1, a shilling found in Burghwallis, Doncaster.
SUSS-8BBF63, a sixpence found in Firle, Sussex.

WILT-86B9BB, a half crown found in Hindon, Wiltshire.

Shugborough, Admiral George Anson’s birthplace, is available to visit. It is now a popular National Trust site.

50 Finds from Staffordshire

The latest in Amberley Publishing’s 50 Finds series is due to be published on Sunday 15th April 2018. This volume focuses on some of the exciting finds that have been found in Staffordshire since 1997, when the Portable Antiquities Scheme started.

50 finds were selected from over 12,000 recorded, and are very much a personal choice by Teresa. They reflect the range and diversity of archaeological finds made within the county, from Palaeolithic quartzite handaxes through to Post Medieval skillet handles. Most are still in private ownership but some have been acquired by local museums and are available to view, with thanks to the Treasure Act 1996. Some finds made have been of national, if not international importance and continue to rewrite the history books.

Teresa would like to thank all the metal detectorists and members of the public who have recorded finds made in Staffordshire with the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Without you, this book could not have been written. Please keep up the good work and help us to carry on rewriting Staffordshire (and the country’s history) by continuing to discover new finds, along with their grid references.

To find out which finds have been chosen, you will to have to buy or read the book!

The book is available from Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Waterstones, WH Smith & Amberley Publishing.

Congratulations to Aimee! BMT Student Volunteer of the Year

Every year, Birmingham Museums Trust chose one student volunteer out of all the many who volunteer for us, to be selected as our BMT Student Volunteer of the Year.

This year, Victoria & I’s volunteer, Aimee Hinds won the award!

Victoria nominated her for the award, to reflect the hardwork and commitment she has shown to the PAS West Midlands team, whilst still studying for her Masters at Leicester University. She has been part of the team for over a year now, picking up finds identification, recording and photography very quickly and over that time has recorded nearly 100 finds.


She was presented with her certificate at one of BMT’s heritage sites, Soho House, during a volunteer Explore BMT day.

Congratulations again Aimee, on a well deserved win!

20, 000 records milestone

This week, the WMID office created our 20,000th record since the start of the PAS. The bulk of those records are coins and pot sherds but amongst all those records are some wonderful finds, some of which have contributed to a change in archaeological understanding of the area.

Outstanding finds include:

But there are many other gems within.

To highlight a few, each member of the team has chosen a couple of finds as their favourites and here they are:

Victoria enjoyed recording this Roman copper-alloy helmet cheek-piece discovered near the Roman settlement known as Pennocrucium, which survives now only as buried archaeological features. These are rare finds to be recorded on the database.

Not only was it exciting to record because of its rarity but it also allowed further a deeper understanding of the Roman landscape of the area around Watling street (A5) and the Roman fortress that may have once been situated in the area. Another helmet cheek-piece recorded by The Portable Antiquities Scheme is part of 33 fragments, with 34 smaller fragments found in association which was subsequently restored and is now referred to as the Crosby Garrett helmet.


Victoria’s other favourite object recorded recently is this copper alloy vessel mount of Late Iron Age / early Roman date, circa AD 50 – 200.

The moulded swirling design is stunning and resembles other decoration seen on objects with La Tene motifs. It is suggested by the experts at the British Museum and our national finds advisor Sally that it was used as a vessel mount or perhaps a harness fitting. We do not see many objects from the Iron Age in Staffordshire, if we do they are likely coins or brooches so this really stood out as something special.



Amongst all the finds that Teresa has dealt, the two she has chosen are: A modern silver set of denturesAlthough the PAS generally records finds older than 300 years, with more recent finds being at the local FLOs discretion, finds like this can tell us a lot about personal hygiene and appearance. This set of dentures was manufactured between AD 1800 and AD 1930s, using a low grade silver. A couple of human teeth still survive in situ. Although animal or ivory teeth were used, human teeth were preferable as they lasted longer in the harsh environment of the mouth. These teeth could come from a variety of sources, including off the battlefield (aka Waterloo teeth) or the Poor donating them for money.



The other find she has chosen, is slightly older in date, Medieval, around 1350 to 1400 AD, a decorative two part strap claspThese figurative strap clasps are a personal favourite as they form a side research project. This type of strap fitting is relatively unusual in the published literature, especially from stratified contexts, but over 150 have been recorded on the PAS database. This has enabled several different types to be identified, from a bird like type, to an animal head and several versions of a human head.



Jade’s favourite two are:

WMID-AE6ED4– an incomplete annular brooch, of early thirteenth century dating. This was one of the first finds that she recorded and therefore it really stands out. The shape of the brooch is interesting and amazing that the paste that would have secured each gem in a collet has survived. It made her wonder whether any of the gems did survive and where were they now. This one started an interest in brooches and although she has recorded many more to the database, none stand out quite like this one.

WMID-AE0427– A complete lead alloy papal bulla, issued by Pope Martin V (AD1417 to AD1431), dating to the period AD1417 to AD 1431. It stood out as it was the first Papal Bulla she had seen, made her curious to know the details of the message that this bulla sealed. Some of the damage that this item received may have been due to it being used as an amulet, as has been postulated. This secondary usage would have given the bulla another purpose entirely and it may have continued to have been relevant in daily life for a much longer period of time, possibly even outlasting the Pope who issued it.

Bob has selected these two:

WMID-38FE5C – Though there are several more complete and more decorative examples to be seen on the database, I love this object because, despite its damage, it still demonstrates the potential beauty of what is essentially a practical item. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the dress hook was something that you might only catch a glimpse of among items of clothing, depending on how it was worn and used. For example, attached (using sewn tapes) to a garment, the hook might be used to hold up the garment hem when walking in wet conditions. Other ways in which dress hooks may have been used would be to attach the bottom of a shawl to a belt (to prevent it flapping in the breeze), or to support hosiery (much in the same way as the more modern suspenders).

WMID-300551 – This pendant and others like it reminded him of the gloriously romantic pictures of chivalrous knights performing their ‘deeds of derring do’. Their horses were always resplendent in highly decorative livery, proudly displaying the arms of their lord. With Teresa & Victoria’s help, a little research showed that the decipherable details of the arms appearing on this example pendant corresponded greatly to the heraldry depicted for William III de Cantilupe, lord of Abergavenny. Though this gentleman possibly never performed any great deed, it is still possible to imagine him astride his great horse with this shiny new pendant side by side with others on the horse’s harness.

Emily Freeman, our current West Midlands Headley Trust Intern has chosen:

WMID-D165CB–  The combination of three coloured enamels on this button and loop fastener make it bright and striking, definitely one of the stand out finds that she have recorded.  The slightly clumsy appearance adds to its charm, the enamel has been dripped onto the central square accidentally.

WMID-F6B912– a penny of Offa, King of Mercia. She enjoys recording coins and although this is not one she recorded, it is an exciting find because we are based in the old kingdom of Mercia. Offa’s dyke famously runs the length of Wales and The Marches, an attempt to keep the welsh tribes from attacking the Mercian kingdom. This coin has a bust on the obverse and the legend OFFA REX identifies the king. It is always amazing to find Early Medieval coins so this one is certainly a stand out record!

And drumroll time, our 20,000 record is: WMID-869918. A slightly clipped half groat of Henry VI, issued between 1422 and 1427 as part of the Annulet coinage and minted in Calais.


Well done and thank you to all members of the WMID team, past and present for their hard work, so we could achieve this milestone! Time for a celebration!

Why do we borrow finds for recording?

Here in the West Midlands, when recording finds, we prefer to borrow them for 2-3 months. Other FLOs in different regions may have other preferences.

While your finds are in our care, we do take great care of them, and are stored securely when we are not working on them. 2-3 months may initially seem like a long time, but in reality, it is barely any time at all, maybe 1-2 monthly club meetings. It just gives you time to go out and find more wonderful finds for us to record.

There are many reasons why we have this preference. These include:

  1. Help. At a club meeting, it is often just ourselves there. Whereas back in the office, we can consult with our experienced colleagues or reach out via email to a whole host of specialists to ask their opinions on a find. And if we have the find to hand, we can take any additional photographs that they may require.
  2. Light. The background lighting at club meetings is often quite poor. This means that any photos taken are often quite dark, and there is a limit to how much ‘lightening’ or ‘tweaking’ you can do in Photoshop to make a poor photograph good. Inscriptions on coins and seal matrices really need good lighting to ensure that we have the correct reading.
    Victoria Allnatt recording at a rally

    Angie Bolton recording finds at a rally. Note some of the equipment on the table.
  3. Time. Recording takes time. Club meetings can be busy and stressful enough just meeting and catching up with you all, without having to factor in time to record all the finds that we see. Most club meetings last 1-2 hours, and often we can talk to up to 20 different people during that time. If we had include recording finds into the club meeting as well, then we (and you) would be there until they kicked us out at closing time.
    A skeleton record (photo, weight, measurements, date) can be done in 1-2 minutes, but a proper record can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour per find, depending on how much research needs to be done and whether we have a grid reference or not. It helps having the find to hand, so that you can look at all angles, especially if it is a tricky find, as opposed to working off a 2D photograph taken in a dark and dingy club meeting.
    When in the office (and can ignore the email and telephone), we can often record between 20-25 finds in a day. More if they get handed in with a grid reference. Producing the digital image can take between 5 to 30 mins depending on how complicated it is.
    In the past, when we have recorded at a rally, there was a minimum of 2 FLOs, working flat out all day, often working through lunch and up until the last car is ready to leave. On a busy rally, we can do skeleton records of 70-80 finds.
  4. Space. Often all we get is a small table with minimal space to spread out. If we were to be recording, then we would need a separate table to set up the camera up (minimise any shaking to attempt a better photo.
  5. Paperwork. With treasure, emails, phone calls (and finds), we have more than enough to do anyway without creating more work for ourselves. Any skeleton records created at either a club meeting or a rally, still need to be added to the database. By recording the find in the office, we can do it all in one go, saving time. The information is typed straight onto the database, the image added, and finished off with the findspot. Finally it is promoted, so you can see the finished record.
  6. Equipment. We would need to carry all our recording equipment with us, i.e. camera, lights, tripod, callipers, scales, magnifier, recording forms, selected reference books. Although each by themselves don’t weigh much, all together it does add up and can make for a very heavy bag. Factor in any knee and back issues caused from time spent out in muddy trenches. Manual Handling protocols at Birmingham Museum advise that moving heavy loads should be avoided, where possible.

Back in the office at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, we have a dedicated photographic rig, a well lit room and a whole host of reference books at our disposal.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme office at Birmingham Museums Trust.
The photographic rig. The turn table at the back left is for taking 3d photographs.
The PAS reference library. This contains the main reference books that are in use, including a full run of RIC for identifying Roman coins
All the main Roman coin identification books (RIC, RRC, LBRC and Cunetio).

We have the time and space to ensure that we can sort out a high quality photo and record of your find. We have access to an XRF and an XRay machine, should we need them.

The Xray machine at Birmingham Museum Conservation Laboratory

Near at hand, we have the main coin reference volumes (RIC, North, ABC and Hobbs), along with Dress Accessories, Meols, Colchester, Bailey & Butcher, Mackreth, Hattatt, and many more. More specialist coin reference volumes are available downstairs in the Curatorial reference library, thanks to the museum holding a numismatic collection. That library also contains many specialist research volumes and county journals that we do not have upstairs. 9 times of 10 we can track down the right book we need for most finds.

County Journals in the Birmingham Museum Curatorial library
Part of the Birmingham Museum Curatorial library. This contains a large number of numismatic volumes, along with all regional archaeology county journals and period specialist volumes.
These shelves contain the numismatic reference books.
A selection of the Numismatic books. These are on Anglo-Saxon coins.

What can you do to help speed up the process: Supply accurate grid references for each find handed in. If this is done, then we can promote the record so you can see it much quicker once it is finished and we won’t be chasing you with a map several months later to mark where you found it. Each time we have to go back to a record to add the findspot, it takes at least 5 minutes, time we could spend recording a new find.

Local Medieval Treasure donated to Tamworth Castle

An amazing post-Medieval decorative dress hook, 2015T908 has been donated to Tamworth Castle by a local Dosthill metal detectorist, John Willetts and the landowner.

2015T908 WAW-77ED2D, A Silver gilt dress hook from the Shenstone area

History enthusiast Mr Willetts made an exceptional discovery of a silver-gilt dress hook in the Shenstone area, not far from Tamworth in early 2016. Excited by his find, he contacted Angie Bolton, Finds Liaison Officer for Worcestershire and Warwickshire (Portable Antiquities Scheme and Birmingham Museums Trust), Angie Bolton put the hook through an assessment where it was declared Treasure by a coroner.

The dress hook is a small and very decorative item that would have been used during the Medieval and Tudor period as a clothing accessory to fasten outer garments or to drape up skirts. Made of base metal or precious silver-gilt, dress hooks would be highly important and valuable and even mentioned in inventories and wills.

It is dated as post-Medieval and is unusually complete without sustaining damage often found where the land has been ploughed.

Another view of the dress hook

Mr Willetts said: “I was very excited to discover this rare item and to learn it is Treasure. I am very interested in history and love to explore the local and surrounding Tamworth area with my detector.

“I strongly believe that history and historical finds should be kept locally and I am more than happy to donate this to Tamworth Castle to add to the castle’s living history programme and collections”

Tamworth Castle is well accustomed to having buried treasure within its historic walls with items from the largest Anglo-Saxon gold hoard ever found – the Staffordshire Hoard – on display.  This new treasure will be displayed in a separate case within one of the castle rooms.

Mr Willetts was greeted by Teresa Gilmore; Finds Liaison Officer for East Staffordshire and North West Midlands (Portable Antiquities Scheme and Birmingham Museums Trust), last week at Tamworth Castle; where the dress hook was presented to Sarah Williams, the Collections Officer for the castle.

Handing over the dress hook. From left to right: Teresa Gilmore, Sarah Williams and the finder, John Willett.

Councillor Joy Goodall, portfolio holder for Environment and Culture, said: “How wonderful that this local historical piece will be displayed at Tamworth Castle. Mr Willetts and the land owner have very kindly declined their reward to enable the castle to showcase this piece for visitors to see.

Sarah Williams, Collections Officer (Tamworth Castle) with the dress hook

“This silver-gilt dress hook forms another part of the significant and important individual finds and local archaeology which forms an integral part of Tamworth Castle’s collections, helping to tell the history and story of Tamworth.”

For information on Tamworth Castle opening hours and events visit: and information on Treasure can be found on: